he bosses of one of the country’s most successful and respected record labels, Kalawa Jazmee Records, are apparently no longer seeing eye to eye.
City Press has reliably learnt about divisions in the ranks of five of the cofounders of the iconic label: Oscar “Oskido” Mdlongwa, Mandla “Spikiri” Mofokeng, Emmanuel “Mjokes” Matsane, Zynne “Mahoota” Sibika and Bruce “Dope” Sebitlo.
Three well-placed sources have told City Press that the label’s bosses are apparently having disagreements about money and the direction of their music.
So bad is the competition between them, the sources allege, that some of their signed artists are thinking about jumping ship.
Three of the Kalawa Jazmee bosses, however, are insistent that there is no rift between them, while one has acknowledged that, although they do have occasional differences, these are not serious.
Matsane said: “Disagreements are a natural part of life. People are different, but there is no disagreement that is a threat to the label.”
But City Press understands from its sources, two of whom are musicians close to the record label, that the fallout is serious and the record label bosses are now trying to outdo each other.
“It’s about who’s going to produce the next hit and is driving the best car. Their competition is unhealthy,” one said.
“They are now scattered. This is sad. These are the guys who took Kalawa Jazmee to where it is today,” he added.
The 20-year-old company produced such successful groups and artists as Boom Shaka, Thebe, Bongo Maffin, Trompies, Mafikizolo and Alaska.
Kalawa Jazmee was the result of a merger between two record labels: Kalawa – formed by Christos Katsaitis, Don Laka, Bruce Sebitlo and Mdlongwa – and Jazmee, established by Jairus “Jakarumba” Nkwe, Eugene “Donald Duck” Mthethwa, Matsane, Sibika and Mofokeng.
One former music executive who was close to the Kalawa bosses said: “There is no unity between the directors. This is one of the reasons Kalawa Jazmee is like this today. The bosses themselves are artists and they are promoting their projects instead of their artists. This is a conflict of interest.”
Two musicians close to the label said the rift was a threat to the company’s future: “The Kalawa Jazmee record label doesn’t exist any more. It’s just the name that is out there. They don’t have a proper structure – they are running it like a spaza shop,” said one.
Mofokeng is now working on his own project called Kwaito Revolution – which features old kwaito artists such as Mshoza, Brickz and Mzambiya, as well as new kwaito talent – under his own company, Spikiri Entertainment.
Two sources from Sony Music told City Press that Spikiri Entertainment was now signed under Sony Music for distribution and marketing.
“Mdlongwa and Sibika are not even interested in helping him on this project. They both believe kwaito is dead and this project is going to be a disaster,” said one of the musicians.
Mofokeng was reluctant to comment when contacted, and asked to be called back at a later stage.
Now some of Kalawa Jazmee’s artists are thinking of leaving the company.
“Most artists are still figuring out a way to leave the company for good. They feel abandoned,” said one of the musicians. “I can tell you now, no artist will speak badly about the record label. They are scared that it might be the end of their music careers.”
However, the label bosses are insistent that there is nothing wrong at the company.
Mdlongwa said: “We are the only independent black label. We have been at this for 20 years. There are bound to be people who have something to say, who would like for there to be some drama or would like to see the end of Kalawa. It is not true,” he said.
Sibika also denied the existence of any disagreements that could threaten the label.
“There is no such thing at Kalawa,” he said.
ON THE ROCKS? Oscar ‘Oskido’ Mdlongwa, DJ and producer Zynne ‘Mahoota’ Sibika and kwaito pioneer Mandla ‘Spikiri’ Mofokeng